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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The economic crisis is now a human rights crisis

EDF Statement on a ‘Social Investment Package’ to the European Council

22-23 November 2012

The economic crisis is now a human rights crisis

·        Whereas 80 million persons with disabilities live in the European Union (16% of the population), and that one in four Europeans has a family member with a disability;
·        Acknowledging that persons with disabilities and their families have been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis leading to the worsening of their living conditions  and endangering their social rights, including cuts in benefits and services;
·        Regretting that the economic crisis hit the most vulnerable citizens across Europe, which are at higher risk of poverty and discrimination.
·        Deploring the lack of long term vision of national reforms focused on immediate increasing tax burden hitting in particular low and middle income, as jeopardizing social services, and thereby undermining the European social model based on social inclusion;
·        Recalling that investing in welfare plays an important role in stabilising incomes and protecting the most vulnerable groups at times of crisis;
·        Acknowledging that recovery measures have up to now neglected the important contribution for growth and employment that could be brought by persons with disabilities themselves and by the development of services which they receive and manage;
·        Recalling that all the EU member states are parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and that they have a legally binding obligation to progressively improve, in a systematic way, universal access to essential goods and  to services such as healthcare, education, housing and social security as well as to ensure just and favourable working conditions, without any discrimination, in accordance with established international norms;
·        Highlighting that the EU and its Member States have sealed a strong Pact with citizens with disabilities by signing and ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
·        Remembering that persons with disabilities do not enjoy human rights on an equal basis as others despite the adoption of the UN CRPD, but yet they are subject to the same obligations as any other citizen;
·        Stressing the moral obligations that fall upon the European Union after winning the Nobel Peace Prize 2012, for the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights;
·        Noting the EU commitment to making the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy through the delivery of high level employment, productivity and social cohesion;
·        Acknowledging however how far away reality is from this vision and the Europe 2020 Strategy targets;
·        Stigmatising the limited references, both in the Annual Growth Survey and the National Reform Programmes, to policy actions to promote the rights of persons with disabilities;
Noting that the upcoming European Council on 22 - 23 November will focus on the Multiannual Financial Framework, the European Disability Forum calls on:
-           the European Council,
-           the European Commission,
-           the European Parliament,
-           the European Central Bank,
-           and all the heads of State and Government:
·        To adopt a strong multiannual financial framework that includes social investments in order to overcome the current economic and social crisis and to produce long term investments including adequately resourced Structural Funds and accessible public procurement procedures;
·        To ensure that the future structural funds regulation sets among its priorities accessibility, capacity building and full and equal participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, as well as capacity building;
·        To invest in research that actively involves persons with disabilities that will boost access of goods, infrastructure and services for persons with disabilities producing benefits to all EU citizens and developing the potential of EU SMEs;
·        To support investment in accessible Trans-European Networks and Infrastructure projects;
·        To develop a 'Social Investment Package' founded on human rights and non-discrimination principles;
·        To base the above 'Social Investment Package' on a long term programme investing in social policy and services that will help building a more inclusive, participative and prosperous society;
·        To integrate the 'Social Investment Package' within Europe 2020 Strategy through specific measures to protect and promote rights of citizens with disabilities. To ensure that period at this time of crisis the European Union meeting its obligations as a State Party to the UN CRPD
·        To recognize and implement the right of persons with disabilities to adequate resources and support by means  of consistent and comprehensive measures to fight social exclusion;
·        To tackle poverty and social exclusion by labour market attainment through investing in labour participation of persons with disabilities, including those who require more intensive support as well as those with psychosocial disabilities,  also using state aids for employment and training;
·        To provide adequate support for persons with disabilities to enter or re-enter and maintain employment in a way that best relates to their capacity to work;
·        To invest in social protection measures to compensate  for lack of work-related income ensuring affordable access to healthcare and long-term care as well as support to families to ensure  the choice of daily living and personal assistance arrangements;
·        To include non-discrimination and accessibility for persons with disabilities as priority areas in the 2013 Annual Growth Survey, which should be translated into policy actions in the National Reform Programmes;
·        To take a strong political decision to put in place all necessary instruments and guarantees that will effectively protect persons with disabilities from the consequences of the economic crisis.
·      To support the Social Protection Floor, as developed by the International Labor Organisation, which sets  “core human rights obligations”  including inter alia the provision of essential social transfers, in cash and in-kind, to persons with disabilities, which are at higher risk of poverty than non-disabled citizens, as well as the provision of a minimum income security and the access to essential support services including health care, taking into account the specific language needs of certain groups;
·        To put in place a system of social guarantees as defined by the UN and the World Bank, through the development of a concrete operational framework for the design and monitoring of public and private services according to principles of equity and redress, including the realization of social and economic rights of persons with disabilities;
·        To develop specific indicators on disability and the collection of consistent data in order to achieve a better knowledge of the social groups affected by the consequences of the crisis in order to develop customized solutions.

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